It is one of the richest regions on the planet. However, the well-being and equality of minors are not considered priorities by the great powers. It is believed that around 23 million children face the risk of poverty and social exclusion. Covid has made it worse and is expected to worsen in the coming months.
The levels of child poverty are 15.2% in countries like the Netherlands and Denmark, and around 13% in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
In Spain, the indicator increases to 29.5%, and in Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece, it exceeds 30 points.
These numbers are the result of a recent investigation by the European Court of Auditors (ECA), which notes that 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 lives in a housing complex in precarious conditions, in households with severe deprivation and low employment levels. According to the body, the reality of the regional alliance is increasingly worrying and “makes it impossible to determine if the initiatives taken by the European Commission (EC) are effective enough in dealing with this problem”.
According to Tony Murphy, who was responsible for the report, “child poverty remains a serious issue in the EU, therefore, it cannot be said that there is a sustainable, inclusive and fair society”.
He admits that without taking direct and continuous action, the unacceptable current level is unlikely to decrease. Unfortunately, the situation is becoming more critical due to the crisis generated by Covid-19.
Moreover, it is known that the greater responsibility lies on national governments and that the EC’s role is limited to suggesting and providing legal and economic support to the countries in the bloc, but there is a general awareness of how important it is for the Community Directive to assume a more active and influential role.
One of the objectives set in the Europe 2020 strategy was to lift at least 20 million people out of poverty. However, according to the ECA report, this target will not be reached and the progress towards this goal is scarce.
The ECA is concerned that the actions projected are not focused specifically on children as being one of the most vulnerable groups and that the appropriate measures are not taken, and the necessary funds are not made available.
It should be noted that the audit of different countries took place before the spread of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which means that the current and future situations must be much worse.
According to the EU forecast, the regional economy is expected to contract by more than 8% this year and the unemployment rate to increase to 9.5%.
The ECA considers that, in this situation, it is essential that the 27 reach a major compromise and have a coordinated response.
According to Save the Children, household income, whether in terms of wages or social benefits, is a determining factor. Poverty, however, is not only lack of money: “This is a multidimensional phenomenon and one of the main causes of children’s rights violations in Europe”. This scourge is associated with discrimination and lack of access to essential services such as education, health, and housing.
The organisation explains that one fifth and one third of children in countries like Italy and France, are in danger.
Unicef and Save the Children consider the increase of government measures to ensure proper development of all children and the end of the intergenerational transmission of poverty, to be of great importance. (PL)